City council sets utility rates, solar energy policy

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By Shelia Tomkins

The Guttenberg city council at its regular monthly meeting on April 8 increased utility rates, responded to discussion on solar energy and set a public hearing on a budget amendment.

Mayor Bill Frommelt led councilmembers Mick Pierce, Austin Greve, Fred Schaub, and Virginia Saeugling through the evening's agenda. Also present at the council table were City Manager Denise Schneider and City Attorney Michael Schuster.

Rate increases

After reviewing the electrical rate study presented at last month's meeting, the council passed an ordinance that will increase electrical, water and sewer rates. 

The new electrical rates are expected to create an annual margin of approximately $156,000 that will be used to cover future electrical infrastructure expenses. For residential customers, the energy charge will increase from $.108 to $.1133 per kWh, and the customer charge will increase from $6 to $6.25 per month per meter.

In addition, the ordinance also provides for an annual 3% rate increase for both water and sewer effective on July 1 of each year. The rates will be reviewed every two years. 

Solar policy

Continuing an item from the March meeting, the council listened to lengthy and complex discussion of the city's solar interconnection and net metering policy.

Speaking to the council were Raki Giannokouros of Blue Sky Solar, homeowners Steve and Michele Dikkers, Joleen Jansen of the Clayton County Energy District, homeowner Jim Osterhaus, and Louie Ervin of Latham, Ervin and Associates. The latter had recently completed the city's electrical rate study.

Giannokouros asked that the solar application of homeowners Steve and Michele Dikkers, submitted in 2018, be accepted on grandfathered terms; the council agreed.        

The council also considered a second issue, the manner in which excess solar energy is handled. Four options were discussed; after lengthy discussion, the council ultimately approved what was termed a compromise policy. 

Budget amendment

A public hearing will be held at the regular monthly May meeting on an amendment to this year's budget. The amendment reflects revenues from grants and donations, and expenses related to grants, debt service and fund transfers. There is no increase in tax levies connected with the proposed budget amendment.

Public works UTV

The council approved the purchase of a utility task vehicle (UTV) for the public works department from Del-Clay Farm Equipment of Edgewood for $16,032.  

Tree study

Richard Kittelson, an arborist from Clermont, gave a report on the inventory of the city's park and street trees conducted in 2018. City code requires that the city inspect for dead, diseased or damaged trees and shrubs. He noted that the 842 trees inventoried were made up of 30 species. He said that 37% of the trees are in need of some type of management, and that 53 of 83 ash trees have signs or symptoms of Emerald Ash Borer infestation. 

Other business

At last month's meeting, the council decided to move forward on a request from TJ Pierce and Dan Pierce to purchase a small parcel of city-owned land adjacent to property they own in the north part of the city. The property was recently appraised at $9,100. The Pierces subsequently made an offer of $1,000 plus costs. The council voted to make a counter offer of $8,000 including costs. 

Police Chief George Morteo spoke to the council about procedures for handling funds in the police forfeiture account, an item tabled at last month's meeting. After discussion, the council and police chief agreed those funds would continue to be kept in the city's checking account and that the police chief would request expenditures using a procedure that would provide for accountability and confidentiality.

The council okayed the pool committee's plans for a donor recognition wall at the new pool house.

A bid from Mike Randall was accepted to mow the city's recreation property this season.

The council approved the placement of traffic signs designating no trucks between Wieland and Lessing Streets.

At the request of Terry Moser, the council voted to move forward on a request to abandon an easement in Block 35.

The council granted a sewer rate adjustment  requested by Kari Hoyheim due to a water line leak.

The council okayed the employee roster for the seasonal pool and concession stand positions. They also voted to give city employees and the pool operation volunteer complimentary pool season passes.

A $15,500 bid from Lynch Roofing was accepted to replace half of the roof at the fire station.

Andrea Meyer was appointed to the Guttenberg Economic and Industrial Development Commission.   

Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission was designated to assist with a city grant application for wastewater project.

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